SILER CITY — The future of Siler City and western Chatham County appeared as bright as the sunny November sky Monday as Central Carolina Community College, Chatham County, Siler City, and state officials held the groundbreaking ceremony for the college’s new Siler City Center.
“The college and Chatham County have been looking forward to this for some time — it’s a great day in Siler City,” said college President Bud Marchant.
He welcomed the crowd of about 90 local officials and educators to the event. Also attending were N.C. Sen. Bob Atwater and Rep. Joe Hackney, Speaker of the N.C. House of Representatives.
“Job training is so important in these tough economic times,” Hackney said. “This facility will be a great thing for Siler City and western Chatham County.”
Since 1984, the college’s programs in western Chatham County have been held in the 14,000-square-foot former Henry B. Siler School, in Siler City. The new $4 million Center, is a 23,800-square-foot facility located on a wooded 41-acre site in the county’s Central Carolina Business Campus, also in Siler City. It is scheduled for completion in fall 2010.
The new facility will enable the college to do a major expansion of its programs in workforce and adult education for residents of Siler City and western Chatham County. It will also provide workforce training for current and future businesses that locate in the Business Campus. The Center will house classrooms, offices, a student center, computer and class labs, vocational/industrial training shops, and other services.
“The Chatham County Board of Commissioners has set CCCC as a priority,” said George Lucier, chairman of the board of commissioners and a college trustee. “The college provides wonderful educational opportunities for the citizens of Chatham County. Job opportunities are critical for growth and having a college that gives job training is a big plus when we try to recruit businesses. It is fantastic to have it in the Central Carolina Business Campus.”
Dianne Reid, president of Chatham County Economic Development Corporation, also addressed the importance of the workforce training that will take place at the Center. She told the gathering that Site Selection magazine has chosen North Carolina as the No. 1 place in the United States for business growth for eight of the past nine years. She gave major credit for this to the state’s community college system and its workforce development programs.
“Having Central Carolina Community College here to train workers to fill jobs we attract is incredibly huge,” she said. “There could not be a more important thing we could offer to prospective businesses.”
The county had hoped to start construction on the new facility two years ago, but the economy made it impossible to move then. It was finally given the go-ahead this year, when bids came in about $1 million lower than originally. Bobby Powell, chairman of the college’s board of trustees, praised the commissioners for moving forward even though the economy is still not good.
“This is growth in real tough economic times,” he said. “The Chatham commissioners should be commended. It would have been easy to put the building of this Center on hold, but they chose to step up, step out, and step ahead in providing education for their citizens.”
The Center incorporates many green environmentally friendly and energy efficient features, such as solar-oriented site design, low-flow water systems, water efficient landscaping, reflective roof surfaces, low volatile organic compound (VOC) materials, and day lighting of interior spaces. It will meet the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) energy efficiency standards for Silver-level certification or higher. The facility was designed by Taylor Hobbs of Hobbs Architects, of Pittsboro, and construction is by Monteith Construction Corp., of Monroe.